A Real Job and the Gallatin Tower

I started my first ever Real Job last week. I am not really sure what differentiates it from all the other jobs I’ve had (dishwasher, muffin baker, roofer, painter, landscaper, window washer, barista, trail crew, waitress, freelance writer, ski patroller, search and rescue worker, wilderness trip leader), except that it is, in theory, not a seasonal position. I am now an editor for a set of publications based in Big Sky, a town defined by seasons. My work schedule has already been pretty creative.

I thought my life as I knew it was over. I’d never climb again. I’d never get any exercise. I’d be driving back and forth to Big Sky. Uggg.

Last night I drove home from work with enough time to scramble up the backside of Gallatin Tower, halfway between Bozeman and Big Sky. In my truck I had my laptop, purse, Dansko clogs, flip flops and climbing shoes. The only pants I had were the tight jeans I’d worn to work (the designer ones I spent $180 on in Aspen the summer I was 27 and living out of my truck in Carbondale, Colorado). Luckily, this decade’s ladies jeans are stretchy.

Commuter traffic buzzed by as I walked along Route 191. Cold air had sunk into the bottom of the river canyon. The echoes from passing trucks felt violent. I hiked to the base in my flip flops, changed into my climbing shoes, and then climbed the 250 feet to the top of the Tower, stretching my desk-sore body on the easy terrain.

I stood there a moment, feeling the breeze and looking across the canyon to the last light of the day hanging around the north side of Skyline Buttress. Smoke from a small fire on a ridge to the south made snow on nearby peaks look brown.

I climbed down the way I’d come up, switched back to flops, and descended thefive-minute trail back to the road. Across the river, a small Cottonwood’s changing leaves were barely orange but bright against the dark hillside.

Then I sat in my truck as it got dark, typing on my computer. With my face lit up by the screen, that always feels like kind of a weird thing to do, but I can’t really help myself.

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About Emily Stifler

I grew up in Vermont and live in Bozeman, Montana. I love topography: mountains, rocks, weather and people.
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